14 May Luna, The Rise of a Bipolar Superhero
Luna, The Rise of a Bipolar Superhero
Louise M. Hart
Shelagh and Arthur scrambled over the cemetery gates. The moon cast menacing shadows on the ground below and beckoned them to cross the hallowed turf. They often visited the graves during daylight, but this was their first evening visit. Shelagh’s sturdy legs helped break her fall. Following her, Arthur crashed to the ground, like a bird stunned mid-flight, and began to whimper. “Don’t be such a babby,” Said Shelagh, irritation seeping into her colloquial speech.
At 16 years old Arthur was Shelagh’s senior by just 1 year. He brushed his trousers with his skinny hands and glared at his friend. “I don’t know why I let you talk me into doing these things?” Sensing his irritation, Shelagh grabbed Arthur’s hand and led him to the gravestones.
“Remember, Keats and Yeats are on my side, Wilde is on yours.” She said, releasing her long hair from a ponytail. They dodged in and out of the gravestones; hand-in-hand, like conjoined twins whom no man or woman could separate. “Stop,” said Shelagh leaning back against the most ornate gravestone in the cemetery. “Here lies the body of Stephen Patrick Morrissey,” She began to quote the inscription on the stone, “He smiled… and then he died.”
“Have you ever done it… with a girl, Arthur?” She asked. The dark sky concealed Arthur’s blushes; nevertheless he turned his face from Shelagh’s expectant eyes. “Rimbaud was a queer… and Mr Wilde, of course.”
“I’m not a queer, I’m homosexual,” said Arthur, bending her over the gravestone.
9 months later Shelagh went into labour. “I told you, you should have kept your knickers on,” said her Mother, as Shelagh dug her nails into her Mother’s hand and screamed in anguish. “But, I don’t want a babby, our Mom.”
The hospital staff had never witnessed a labour quite like it. Shelagh’s waters broke 48 hours before she delivered her baby. She writhed in pain, like a soul possessed, but the baby did not seem to want to appear. Eventually, the resistant creature’s head crowned, but even when the midwife used forceps, she would not make an entrance. Fearful of damaging the baby and her exhausted Mother, she paged the consultant obstetrician, who arrived promptly.
Entering with a swish of his regal head, Dr Heart examined Shelagh and announced with a glint in his eye, “We’ll get the bugger out.” He produced his own personalised pair of forceps, solid gold and initialised, flicked his wrist and the baby finally appeared.
The moon was unusually bright and almost red, soaking the delivery room in a crimson glare of bloodied light. The baby howled as loudly as a wounded beast, her face raw with fury. “Put IT back inside,” screamed Shelagh. But, when the doctor looked down at the infant, he smiled. For his thoughts knew that he had found The One.
20 years later, Luna sat outside the railway station in Brumingham City, the centre of her failed dreams. Beside her rested the battered porkpie hat she had bought in more fruitful times. It contained a 5 pence coin that someone had discarded because they had too much loose change in their pocket. “Is this all I’m worth?” She thought.
She stood up and began to walk aimlessly. She had nowhere to go and no one to tell.
Luna imagined the pavement swallowing her up in one concave whole, only to spit her out, again. Her limbs became disengaged from her puny torso, her head falling to the ground with an indifferent squelch. A fragmented thing, she looked down and perceived the regurgitated remains of her former self.
That morning she had woken beneath a particularly fine oak tree in a park her homeless comrades frequented. Claiming that she wanted more privacy, her only friend had evicted her from her sofa the previous evening. She really meant that supporting the strange and unpredictable young woman Luna had become, had destroyed her as unequivocally as if she had received a round of bullets to the head.
The world looked different from yesterday. Hovering between her and her surroundings, an invisible veil obscured Luna’s perceptual field. She wanted to reach out, but her mind recoiled from the scene. All day, she had been aware of a noise in her head. It had begun as a steady, but irritating hum and gradually escalated to murmurs. But, as Luna walked among the crowds, the murmurs grew louder.
“Look at the arse on her.”
“How much was the girl in the other shop?”
“Reality is a social construct…”
“I’ve been itching down below.”
A group of young men scurried past her. One of them deliberately knocked into an old, withered man. He had been standing dormant on the pavement looking up at the sky, as though only it and it, alone could offer him a solution to whatever big question his mind posed. Luna rushed to help the elderly man.
The world became green. Luna opened her mind, heart, soul, and finally her mouth and screamed, as no human had ever screamed before. Passersby covered their ears and fled. But Luna remained, her flailing arms reaching for something, a semblance of accessible materiality to make her feel real. She screamed and did not stop.
Minutes later, sirens announced the police’s arrival. They battled her to the ground, like a perilous criminal. Clearly, she was as mental as a kettle, madder than the porkpie hat to which she clung, like a child to a favourite teddy bear. Like all mad people, she needed to be locked up, thrust into a prison cell and forcibly taken to a place of safety.
The officers asked her what her name was, but still she screamed. So cursing loudly, they drove as fast as regulations would allow them to, to the police station and handed her over to their colleagues.
“…Mad fucking bitch,” said the more affable of the two.
The mad fucking bitch spent the next 10 hours bouncing off the cell walls. First the back wall, then the front. Her body became as bruised as an apple, decaying from the inside out. The world had bitten into and spat her out, like a nasty taste. Peeping into the cell a police constable sniggered, at least she had stopped screaming. He unlocked the door and let a doctor enter.
Consultant psychiatrist, Dr Sing smiled at Luna. “What is your name?” He asked. In seconds he grew from his usual height until his head touched the ceiling and then, became as small as a dwarf.
“Alice,” Luna replied.
The ambulance stopped outside Arkingham Asylum. Designed to terrify all those who entered, the building was a vision of ingenious Brutalism. The mere sight of it induced alienation. A tower block of forbidding darkness, it drained the light from all those who dared to look upon its fortified walls and peep through its barred windows.
Luna entered Arkingham handcuffed and as compliant as an infant in arms. Her head bowed and her ears shut out the sound of screams that bellowed across the courtyard. The police officers grabbed her arms and led her to the door. They dragged her inside.
Luna screamed and the police dropped to the floor, clasping their ears. The sound of her pain was like a thousand finger nails sliding down a chalk board, each one wrenching out their tears behind it. “Shut the fuck up,” the officers screeched in unison, gyrating on the ground, like women about to birth triplets. Luna opened the asylum door and a security guard grabbed her.
“Alright love,” She said to the woman, “I won’t resist you.” The police officers burst through the door, thanked the security guard and pushed Luna along a matrix of corridors until they arrived outside May Ward, the secure or lock-up ward.
“You’ve got a right one here,” Said the youngest officer, releasing Luna’s handcuffs and handing her to the care of the nurses inside. “Got any paracetamol, love?” When the police had left, the nurses strip searched Luna and shone torches up every orifice of her body.
“My fanny’s twice the size of my back passage,” said Luna, “You’d better have another look.” The nurses gave Luna a collection of tablets and she retired to her bedroom.
The waterproof bed sheet crinkled beneath Luna’s frail form and the air smelled of hostility. She possessed no tears and her screams were now confined to her mind. But, at least she had a bed for the night. Luna did not want to venture beyond her room. She feared those who were so mad that they were sane.
She spent the night awake. Her opened eyes stared ahead, hoping for solutions to the thousands of questions that presented in her mind. Every half hour the nurses would shine a torch through the door window into her eyes. Every half an hour she snarled back at them or covered her face with her pillow. By 7 o’clock she could hear the sounds of patients stirring, by 8 she heard shouts and screams.
At 9 o’clock a nurse opened her bedroom door and shouted, “Medication.” Luna’s mind raced, like a cerebral athlete. Her thoughts rushed between her ears, then disappeared into the ether, like the soap bubbles she blew when she was a child. Thinking hurt her, but she felt more alive than she ever had been.
She ventured outside her room and made her way to where the medication was being dispensed. “Did you sleep well?” said the nurse who slid tablets into her hand. She knew that they were aware that she had not slept and laughed. “The doctor is coming to see you soon,” continued the nurse.
Luna spat the tablets into the nurse’s face. The nurse jumped backwards and a second nurse grabbed Luna’s arm and twisted it behind her back. One of them sounded her personal alarm, within seconds a gang of them had surrounded her and led her back to her bedroom. She struggled, but there were too many of them. They pulled down her trousers and pants and she felt a needle penetrate her arse cheek. She screamed a scream of infernal agony, like a call to the death of humanity and then, fell into a deep sleep.
When Luna awoke her clothes were damp with piss. She slowly remembered what had happened to her and a sense of dread overcame her mind and soul. She did not know how long she had lain in the stinking bed, but she felt rancid with her own spirit and detritus. Despair claimed her and, like a wingless bird, she descended into the abyss, before landing painfully on solid earth.
She could hardly walk. Her body felt as heavy as if she had gained 20 stones of weight. So, Luna shuffled outside her room. A nurse met her and led her back inside. She shoved her in the shower and slowly Luna began to awaken.
Luna walked towards the dinner table. “What day is it?” She asked a woman with 3 breasts.
“Monday… I think. No, Thursday…or is it Friday?” The woman replied.
“It’s a mad world,” thought Luna, whilst a Tears for Fears record played on the radio.
“It’s the sounds of the 80’s,” said the DJ. Luna looked at the worn out faces that surrounded her. She ate her lunch without speaking to anyone and avoiding eye contact with the other inmates. But, when she had finished eating a nurse approached and said that a doctor wished to see her.
Once again, dread claimed her. Luna followed the nurse into the office and awaited her fate. Within seconds she saw 2 twinkling blue eyes peering at her through the door. It opened and the doctor walked through. He swished his hair out of his eyes and thrust a hand towards her to shake. “Alice,” he said, “I’m your consultant psychiatrist Dr…”
To be continued…
Louise M. Hart is a writer and poet from the West Midlands. The author of 2 novels, “The General Paralysis Of Sanity” and “The Fantastical Flights of Emilia Gate”, her poems have been published in anthologies and online in “I am not a Silent Poet” and “ArtiPeeps.com”. She blogs at madscribedotme.wordpress.com and is an active Twitter user, where she tweets using the pen name, shunterthompson.